Political

A chaotic campaign helped save Rhode Island’s House speaker in 2016. Now it threatens to end his political career

“I used to joke with people, ‘Are you sure you want to be seen with me? Because the speaker could be watching.’” Frias recalled in an interview last week.

Turns out, even that was true.

Last week’s criminal trial of former Mattiello campaign consultant Jeffrey T. Britt was meant to determine whether Britt laundered $1,000 to help pay for a postcard mailer designed to boost Mattiello during that 2016 campaign. But it also offered a rare glimpse into the win-at-all-costs culture of politics, as witness after witness detailed the strategies employed to help defeat Frias.

Those tactics included surveillance conducted on Frias by a semi-retired private investigator who was seeking a state job, a mail-ballot operation run by a veteran operative who had previous tours of political duty with some of the state’s most corrupt politicians, and the mailer that Britt orchestrated to try to convince a handful of Republicans to back the Democrat in the race.

In the end, Mattiello won the race by 85 votes, a razor-thin margin where almost any maneuver could have tipped the scales in the speaker’s favor.

Now, with early voting scheduled to begin Wednesday, Mattiello’s back is against the wall again as he faces a serious challenge from Barbara Ann Fenton-Fung, the Republican wife of Cranston’s popular mayor, who is eager to capitalize on the seedy details that came out during last week’s trial.

But Mattiello, who was never charged, testified that he knew nothing about the controversial mailer until it hit mailboxes in his district, and a key campaign aide described the mailer as “Jeff Britt’s project.”

The judge has said he won’t issue a ruling for five to seven weeks. So that means voters will render their decision first, in the Nov. 3 general election.

“I think it clearly crossed a

Trump taps U.S. Marine Band for White House event and raises questions about employing the military for political purposes

The band has played at every presidential inauguration since 1801, when President Thomas Jefferson gave the group the title “The President’s Own,” according to its online history. The band is called upon when the president is discharging his duties as head of state.

But federal regulations bar the use of government resources for, and the coercion of federal employees into, political activities aimed at a candidate’s reelection — and taxpayer-funded military bands cannot be used for campaign events. Members of the U.S. military are prohibited from wearing military uniforms at political campaign events.

Administration and military officials said the activity on Saturday was an official White House event called, “Peaceful Protest for Law and Order.”

“The United States Marine Band provided musical support for the Peaceful Protest for Law and Order event, an official event on the South Lawn of the White House,” Capt. Joseph Butterfield, a spokesman for the Marine Corps, said in a statement. “All tasking for U.S. Marine Band support at the White House, including for this event, is generated by the White House Military Office.”

Judd Deere, a spokesman for the White House, said: “The event yesterday was an official White House event and was conducted in compliance with the Hatch Act.” The Hatch Act bars federal employees from using their titles and positions to engage in political activity. The president and vice president are exempt but do fall under criminal provisions that prohibit the coercion of federal government employees to engage in political activity.

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and his predecessor, retired Marine Corps general Jim Mattis, have sought to protect the military from overtly partisan activity. But their efforts have been challenged by a president who has shown a willingness to defy civil-military norms respected by his predecessors, beginning with his first official

Why Won’t White House Say When Trump Last Tested Negative? | Political News

By JILL COLVIN, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — It is a basic, crucial question and one the White House refuses to answer: When was President Donald Trump’s last negative test for the coronavirus before he tested positive last week?

“Yeah, I’m not going to give you a detailed readout with timestamps every time the president’s tested,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters last weekend.

“I can’t reveal that at this time,” echoed Alyssa Farah, the White House director of strategic communications. “Doctors would like to keep it private.”

“I don’t want to go backwards,” said Dr. Sean Conley, the president’s physician.

The answer could help fill in vital details about the course of the president’s illness as well as when he may have been contagious and whom else he may have exposed. And the White House refusal to answer makes it hard not to wonder what they’re hiding, given other details they’ve shared.

“At this point it’s just so strange that they’re unwilling to give us the information,” said Michael Joseph Mina, a physician and professor of epidemiology at Harvard’s school of public health. “It makes people start thinking things like, ‘Was the president the super-spreader?’… If there was no nefarious activity going on, then they should have no problem answering this question.”

The information is also key to tracking who else may have been exposed to the virus so their contacts can be traced to prevent new clusters of infection.

“Then you can get an idea, potentially, of when he was infected, how long his incubation period was, and also then evaluate who may have been exposed to him over that time frame,” said Benjamin Pinsky, medical director of the clinical virology laboratory at Stanford Health Care. While there is considerable variability between cases, he said, Trump

Trump claimed, without justification, that new tighter FDA vaccine guidelines were a ‘political hit job,’ hours after the White House approved them



a man wearing a suit and tie: President Donald Trump removes his mask upon return to the White House from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on October 5, 2020 in Washington, DC. Win McNamee/Getty Images


© Win McNamee/Getty Images
President Donald Trump removes his mask upon return to the White House from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on October 5, 2020 in Washington, DC. Win McNamee/Getty Images

  • Trump claimed the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) tougher guidelines for COVID-19 vaccine developers are a “political hit job” on him.
  • The White House approved the new regulations on Tuesday.
  • The FDA says that before vaccine makers submit an emergency-approval application they should follow trial participants for at least two months after a final dose.
  • These stricter guidelines will most likely prevent any vaccine being approved before the presidential election on November 3 — a deadline Trump had hoped vaccine makers could hit.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump has accused the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of launching a “political hit job” on him, hours after the White House accepted the regulator’s stricter guidelines for coronavirus vaccine developers.

Trump has consistently said he hopes to have a vaccine ready before election day, but the new FDA guidelines will make it difficult for any COVID-19 vaccine to be approved before the November 3 vote. 

He lashed out at the FDA in a tweet on Tuesday evening, tagging commissioner Stephen Hahn.

He did not offer any evidence for his claim the new guidelines were motivated by politics.

The tougher guidelines were cleared by the Office of Management and Budget on Tuesday after a two-week hold-up, during which they were reportedly blocked by senior White House officials, including Mark Meadows, chief of staff.

In the guidelines, the FDA said that before vaccine makers submit an emergency-approval application they should monitor trial participants for a minimum of two months after their final dose in phase-three clinical trials. The

House Democrats push forward on probe of Pompeo’s political speeches

House Democrats are widening an investigation into whether Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTrump COVID-19 result raises pressure on Pompeo GOP Sen. Thom Tillis tests positive for coronavirus Pelosi tests negative for COVID-19 MORE is illegally campaigning for the president ahead of the November election. 

Reps. Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelDemocrats introduce bill to combat sexual harassment at State Department Overnight Defense: Congress recommends nuclear arms treaty be extended | Dems warn Turkey | Military’s eighth COVID death identified Democrats warn Turkey over involvement in Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict MORE (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Joaquin CastroJoaquin CastroCalls for COVID-19 tests at Capitol grow after Trump tests positive Democrats introduce bill to combat sexual harassment at State Department Disinformation, QAnon efforts targeting Latino voters ramp up ahead of presidential election MORE (D-Texas), chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, sent a letter Monday to the State Department demanding the agency’s legal guidance over at least three recent speeches Pompeo delivered in the U.S. 

This includes speeches to the Wisconsin state legislature and a church in Texas in September and a speech Saturday at an event for the anti-abortion advocacy organization the Florida Family Policy Council.

Pompeo was originally expected to deliver his remarks in person, where attendees paid upward of $10,000 for tickets to secure a personal visit with the secretary, CNN reported.

Pompeo rescheduled his remarks, delivering them remotely from Washington out of an abundance of caution following President TrumpDonald John TrumpQuestions remain unanswered as White House casts upbeat outlook on Trump’s COVID-19 fight White House staffers get email saying to stay home if they experience coronavirus symptoms White House says ‘appropriate precautions’ were taken for Trump’s outing to see supporters MORE’s positive diagnosis of COVID-19. 

But his participation